Marsh Matters Dec 09

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					               Marsh Matters 
                                                                                                             Issue 28
                                                                                                             December 2009

               The Newsletter of RSPB Rainham Marshes 
                         Water, water everywhere!                     
 At last the heavens have opened                                      
 and the reserve has once again                                       
 become a lush grassy wetland with                                    
 a mosaic of shallow pools and                                        
 ditches and overnight attracted                                      
 literally hundreds of teal, wigeon,
 gadwall, mallard and shoveler to

                                                                                                                             Tony Coombs
 drop in for a wash and brush up
 and something to eat. Some of
 these eastern travellers may stay
 on and winter on the marsh but
 others will disperse further across
 the country, even going to Eire or        Female Wigeon, a pair of Gadwall and a drake Mallard over the pools
 Iberia. The newly finished Shooting
 Butts Scrape and Ken Barrett                           
 Scrape may look like a muddy, contoured moonscapes but the water is steadily filling them up and the
 local wildlife is taking advantage of them already.    
                                                                 Over 1000 lapwing are now commuting
                                                                 between these scrapes and the Thames
                                                                 foreshore and nearly 200 golden plover can
                                                                           Howard Vaughan

                                                                 be picked out as they roost in a tight blob of
                                                                 shimmering colour on one of the new
                                                                 islands. Greylag geese sift the mud looking
                                                                 for plant tubers and snipe are already
                                                                 probing around the edges while grey herons
                                                                 and little egrets are on the look out for fish
         The final stages of the Ken Barrett Scrape take shape
                                                                 and frogs that have got isolated in small
                                                                 puddles during the work.
                                                                             Hopefully, this is just the start.
                                                                             With more wet weather forecast,
                                                                             all we need is an icy blast from the
                                                                             east and we may even get some
                                                                             wild geese or swans dropping in
                                                                             with the increasing wildfowl
                                                                                            Tony Coombs

                                                                             Now that would be a nice
                                                                             Christmas present!
              Camouflaged Golden Plovers and Lapwings on  Aveley
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All the images used in Marsh Matters are taken at RSPB Rainham Marshes by staff, volunteers and visitors.
                                Charity registered in England and Wales no 207076, in Scotland no SC037654
What’s been about: November: With water now evident on the
site the number of duck rose steadily and there were about 500 wigeon
by mid-month along with 600 teal and 11 pintail. There were still raptors

                                                                                                               Les Harrison
to be had with hen harriers on 4th and 15th and a superb male marsh
harrier that stayed from 16th. The majority of birds here are immature or
females so this was most unusual. a female merlin was seen on three
dates and peregrines became a daily sight, making fantastic stoops at the
lapwings which had slowly risen to about 1000. Golden plover peaked at
194 on 20th with 280 black-tailed godwits roosting on the stone barges
on 16th. A single avocet was seen on 11th and dunlin numbers peaked at               Male Marsh Harrier
700 on the foreshore from 10th. Two jack snipe were to be found by the patient, bobbing in the crake pool. Short-
                                 eared and barn owls were seen on several dates and a little owl on 7th was the
                                 first for at least ten years. Yellow-legged gulls
                                 peaked at 14 (12th) and Caspian gulls were
 Adrian Kettle

                                 seen on three dates. a potential Azorean
                                 yellow-legged gull was seen on 27th.
                                 There was quite a lot of small bird action with
                                 yellowhammers on three dates, four corn

                                                                                                               Russ Sherriff
       A diminutive Serin        buntings, a very obliging snow bunting (9th)
                                 and Lapland buntings on 12th with two on
16th. Fourteen Cetti’s warblers have been in song and a Dartford warbler was
seen on 25th and 29th. Stonechats have become evident but a very pale
female bird attracted most of the attention. Two bearded tits were seen on 1st
and amongst the growing finch flock a single elusive twite was seen on four
dates from 11th. Amazingly two female serins were located on 15th and have
                                                                                    Unusually pale Stonechat
taken up residence in the same area as last winter. Who would have thought
that they would come back for a second winter? The feeders have been popular
with house sparrows and green and goldfinches and the collared dove flock has built up to nearly fifty!
                                          The mild weather has seen
                                          several marsh frogs still out and

                                                                                                               Joshua Twine
                                          about and couple of smooth
                                          newts were found crossing paths.
                                          Red admirals, commas and even
 Andy Tweed

                                          a painted lady made it to mid-
                                          November but there were no
                                          dragonflies after the 15th.
                                              Don’t forget to check out                   Smooth Newt
                Snow Bunting                    warming up on the tarmac!
                                              sightings.asp or
for the latest reserve wildlife sightings. Sign up at and search for ‘RSPB Rainham Marshes’.

Events: Why not come to Meet Santa in his woodland grotto on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 December
from 12-4pm. Booking is essential for this event. However we also have free, informal
Gull ID Days on Saturday December 12 and Saturday 16 January where you will be able to learn more
about this fascinating family of birds, so why not just turn up and join in. Wrap up warm though!
What’s On? Regular Events:
Weekly: Wednesday: Birdwatch (9.30am start) Thursday: Healthy Living Walk (12.15pm start)
Friday : Beginners Birdwatch (10am start) except January 1 2010
Monthly: Rangers Ramble (1pm start) on the second Sunday of each month
Wildlife Explorer Group (10.30am-12.30pm) and Kids Birdwatching Club (10.00am-12.30pm):
December: both Saturday 12 January: Saturday 9 and 16 February: Saturday 13 and 20
For more information about the events, RSPB and Wildlife Explorer Group Phone : 01708 899 840
Email : Web :

                                                                                         The City
                                                                                        Bridge Trust

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